College football never stops, especially in the eight months when there actually is no college football being played. Still, that does not stop many observers of the sport to give their opinion of the up-coming season, especially with the recent college football fervor that recently hit in the form of the 2015 NFL Draft. How will teams look with a few of their key players gone?
ESPN’s Mark Schlabach looks at that in his way-too-early rankings for the 2015 season and ranks UCLA Football at #11.
Nov 30, 2013; Los Angeles, CA, USA; UCLA Bruins coach Jim Mora celebrates at the end of the game against the Southern California Trojans at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
UCLA Football At #11
Considering the hype that surrounded the team last year when UCLA made a preseason entrance at #7, which we all now know was a bit high, Schlabach’s predication for the Brunis seems a bit more accurate.
There is no doubt that UCLA is going to be a good team next year as they return 19 of 22 starters, so this is a fair assessment of the Bruins. Though the defense looks to be more sound than last year, the biggest question is if the yet unnamed starting quarterback can lead the offense as good or better than Brett Hundley did last year. So yes, #11 seems like a fair spot for UCLA Football to be in.
A Look At The Rest of the Pac-12
19. Arizona State
These rankings are similar to the end of last year (except for one giant leap, which we will get into). Starting with Oregon, though I believe they will continue to be a very good team next year, it seems a little hard to view them at #3 with the #2 overall draft pick Marcus Mariota and three of his linemen gone.
Now as for USC, how do I be nice about this? It is ridiculously high. They finished last season #24 in the final College Football Playoff rankings after a narrow 45-42 victory over unranked Nebraska in the Holiday Bowl.
Mar 11, 2014; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Southern California Trojans coach Steve Sarkisian at spring practice at Howard Jones Field. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
The Trojans lost a lot of good player in the draft including the most ferocious Trojan, Leonard Williams. And let us not forget the biggest reason… they still have Steve Sarkisian. Make no mistake, USC will be good, just not Top 5 good.
As for Arizona, ASU and Stanford, they are right where they should be. One can argue that Stanford should not be in the Top 25, but as they lost seven players to the draft, but they would not be too far behind. The one that could actually be higher is Arizona. Last year they were a young team that went to the Pac-12 Championship Game which is exactly what they will be gunning for this year and could do with the extra year of experience.
Also, where is Utah? No love for the Pac-12 I tell you!
The Pac-12 South And The SEC
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Last year it was not only argued which conference was the best in the nation but also which was the best division. That argument continues once again as the Pac-12 South is well represented in this way-too-early poll with four teams which ties them with for the most Top 25 teams in a division with the SEC West… and East.
That is right, the bias lives on as the SEC gets eight teams in this ranking which are evenly split into both divisions. But seriously, who would you choose in this battle royale of college football’s best?
PAC-12: UCLA, USC, Arizona, Arizona State
SEC West: Alabama, Ole Miss, LSU, Arkansas
SEC East: Auburn, Georgia, Tennessee, Missouri
Needless to say, we will be carrying on this conversation through the summer. Go Bruins! Go Pac-12!
Dec 5, 2014; Santa Clara, CA, USA; The Oregon Ducks players celebrate after their Pac-12 Championship game against the Arizona Wildcats at Levi